Remembering a Time Before E-books by M.H. Bonham Guest Post

Remembering a Time Before E-books

by M.H. Bonham

I’m not nostalgic, but sometimes when I’m touching an app on my smartphone, I wonder what the younger generations would think about the world I grew up in.  It must seem positively primitive.

I remember a time before cell phones, before cable TV, and yeah, before the Internet.  I do remember black and white shows.  We didn’t have a VCR until I was in high school, let alone CDs or DVDs.

Computers were ridiculously primitive when I was in high school–and way too expensive for ordinary people to own one.  Hell, I remember when Pong came out.

GPS was still cold war era technology and you had to use a map.  Microwave ovens, while they were around, didn’t really catch on until I was in high school.

So, what did we do as kids, you might ask.  We played with low tech toys (we didn’t have high tech toys), listened to records, read books, watched TV — 3 or 4 channels–wow!  We pretty much made up games and played board games too.   Phone calls were made via land lines and phone booths.  Oh yeah, and I remember rotary dials.

Now that I’ve dated myself terribly, I have to admit I was somewhat instrumental in bringing about this technological evolution.  I was a software engineer and worked with various technologies that are the backbone of what we work with today. That includes e-books.

I look at the evolution of the book to e-book.  Sure, we had e-books in the 90s, but I really didn’t think they would take off until the readers hit a price point that everyone could afford.  (I was right).  I just got a 1/2 terrabyte drive — and it fits in the palm of my hand.  When I look at our technology, I realize that the paper book is going to be just a collector’s item for the few folks who really can’t stand holding an electronic device.

Look, I’m sure when papyrus or parchment was introduced, people resisted.  After all, stone is something that hangs around forever.  And when the printing press showed up?  I’m sure some Luddite complained that it sent a roomful of monks to the unemployment lines.  And when we switch to paper from parchment?  Horrors that we were using tree pulp instead of goat hide.  And I’m pretty sure that old-fashioned typesetters hate computers.

I still have authors who cling to their treeware books and ask me to print paperbacks.  I do, but it’s more of a loss than a gain for me.  Still, if the book does well, I’ll print some copies to make my author happy, but beyond that, it’s a waste.  In paperback,  I make more money off selling author’s copies than sales from bookstores.  Sad but true.

At some point, we’ll see the final shift over to e-books. I’ve been a bit ambivalent, but I realize the need for it.  Paperbacks are too damn expensive, and the large press publishing paradigm is wallowing in the tar pit trap the big publishers built for themselves.  Independent publishers, self-publishers, and small press get it.  They know that moving with technology, and not trying to stifle it, is a good thing.

Adapting is what will make the smaller presses succeed.

Several scientists theorize that it wasn’t just the asteroid hitting the earth that killed all the dinosaurs.

Yes, the asteroid was the death blow, but it wasn’t the entire story.  You see, dinosaurs became specialized.  Specialized to the point where they couldn’t adapt any further.

If you’ve ever owned a bird, you know how fragile they can be.  I have chickens, geese, ducks, quail, and turkeys, and I can tell you if one little thing goes wrong with a bird’s health, it’s pretty much a goner.  You work on trying to keep it from killing the rest of the flock.  So, for birds to survive the asteroid, I suspect the asteroid impact was far wimpier than we’re led to believe.  Dinosaurs were so adapted to their environment that when their environment changed, they didn’t know what to do.  The smaller mammals and birds survived because they probably needed less oxygen and were capable of keeping themselves warm and living underground. Small, fast, and adaptable will win over big and bloated.  Small needs less resources, so when the resources become scarce, there’s a better chance of survival.

Hmm, see a parallel?

I don’t think you need a GPS navigation system to see where the bigger guys are going.


M.H. Bonham is a multiple award-winning author of more than 30 books, including Serpent Singer and Other Stories, Amazon bestseller Prophecy of Swords and Howling Dead, and Runestone of Teiwas.

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Genre – Fantasy 
Rating – PG13 – no graphic sex
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  1. […] Remembering a Time Before E-books by M.H. Bonham (Guest Post) […]

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